Nice has a beautiful Mediterranean climate with gorgeous mild temperatures for most of the year. You can expect brilliant, sunny summers and cool winters. Nice is in Provence on the Cote d’Azur, or the French Riviera, on France’s southeast Mediterranean coast which is famed for its exceptional weather. The city has hills to its north which provide the city with protection, contributing to the fine weather for which Nice is so widely celebrated. The city does receive sufficient rain year round but short showers are more common than days of drizzle. Nice is frequently visited by the mistral, a cool wind that usually blows from the north, but is channelled by surrounding mountains to come at the Cote d’Azur from the east. The mistral is a particularly dry wind and can be partially thanked for this region’s abundance of clear skies, as when it blows it has a tendency to dissipate clouds. The mistral is a well-loved wind because of the clear weather it usually brings, but also more specifically by sailors and windsurfers, who know the coast of Provence for this strong wind.
Nice is France’s second most popular city for tourists to visit, second only to Paris. Aside from having beautiful beaches and enviable weather, it is packed full of cultural delights from local cuisine, to endless museums, to the famed ‘always in flower’ Promenade des Anglais, to the narrow streets of Vieux Nice, ‘Old Nice’, lined with buildings of Belle Epoque, Neo-Classical and Baroque design. Nice has its own dialect, Niçard, and is actually one of the oldest settlements in the world – originally established by the ancient Greeks.
Summers in Nice are long and hot, but like many of its neighbouring Mediterranean cities the hot days are made pleasant by the cooling sea breeze. However, this usually arrives in the evenings, after when it is really needed – scorching summer days which often see Nice reach temperatures of 38 – 40°C. The average high temperature reaches 20°C as early as May. It gets up to 24°C in June, 27°C in July, peaks at 28°C in August before receding to 25°C in September. The average daily temperature rises from 20°C in June to 24°C in July and August, providing consistently pleasant days. Even the average low temperatures are warm, rarely dipping below 20°C in July and August and still maintaining a pleasant 17°C in June and 18°C in September. Night times are warm throughout the season and if it’s particularly humid you might find yourself feeling a bit uncomfortable if you don’t have air conditioning. Rainfall is relatively low at the start of summer, with May averaging around 50mm throughout the month, and June seeing around 40mm fall. July is the driest month in the year with only around 10mm falling throughout the entire month, but September sees a jump in rainfall and the odd heavy downpour or thunderstorm is quite likely. August maintains minimal rainfall, with around 20mm falling over an average of 6 days throughout the month.
Stunning sunset over the Nice coast.
You’re bound to see plenty of sun throughout the season, but June and July are the sunniest months with an average of 14 hours of sunshine per day. May sees around 12 hours, but in August and September the hours begin to diminish as the city moves into autumn, with an average of 13 and 12 hours respectively.
In May the average sea temperatures are still a fairly cool 18°C, rising in June to 22°C. The Mediterranean Sea peaks in temperature at 23°C in July and August, but is generally pleasant to swim in throughout the season. However, if the mistral blows it can push the warm sea water away from the shore, allowing cooler water to come up from below. In September the sea cools down to a relatively pleasant 22°C. Summertime is the ideal time to visit Nice; the promenades are filled with good food, good wine and this is merely capped off by the exquisite Mediterranean weather conditions.
Promenade des Anglais.
Autumn is a great time to visit Nice as the summer heat still lingers but the crowds have dissipated, leaving the city much quieter than during the previous months. With average high temperatures remaining at 21°C in October, the Mediterranean climate prevails, though it does cool off quite quickly towards the end of the month, and you’ll generally need an extra layer for the evenings when the temperatures drop to around 18°C. November still sees very mild temperatures for this time of year, receiving an average high temperature of 16°C. However, the average low temperature of 9°C will remind you that summer has passed – best to pack some warm jumpers for the cool evenings. Overall, you can expect days to be, on average, a very warm 18°C in October, which drops considerably in November to a chillier 13°C. Days are still sunny and crisp, but there might be a slight chill in the air in the evenings, especially towards the end of the season. In October, the hours of sunshine are reminiscent of summer, with an average of 11 hours a day. This cuts down dramatically in November to 9 hours a day – still leaving enough time to explore the city before it gets dark.
Colourful houses of Old Town Nice.
The sea stays warm enough for swimming right through October where it averages around 20°C, though it will take a bit more courage the closer you get to November, when it drops significantly to a chilly 17°C. The cool coastal breeze begins to pick up a bit more in autumn, causing the sea to become choppier than it is in the summer months. While autumn is very mild, it is also the wettest time of year in Nice and you’re likely to get a few showers, with October averaging a hefty 140mm of rain throughout the month, which only slightly lessens in November to 110mm.
Winter weather in Nice (December through until February) is mild, with an average high temperature of 13°C, and an average low of 6°C, in January and February – the coldest months. The thermometer rarely shows below 5°C, even at night. Average daily temperatures sit between 9°C and 12°C, offering a very pleasant climate for this time of year. Nice still receives quite a bit of rain in the winter months, with around 70mm falling throughout each month, but wet days are broken up by frequent crisp and sunny days and when it does rain, it comes in short, sharp showers and passes quickly. Nice gets an average of between 8 and 9 hours of sunshine per day throughout the winter, which is a vast improvement on the gloomy conditions you’ll find in the UK. Frost rarely forms and snow falls extremely rarely.
Swimming is advised against in winter thanks to the sea temperatures dropping to 15°C in December and 13°C in January and February, but that hasn’t stopped Nice from being a popular winter destination. It is mild in comparison to more northerly Europe with high sunshine levels, and there is plenty to enjoy irrespective of the weather. If you need to escape a dreary British winter then a break in Nice can provide days full of activity and good food.
Panoramic of the Nice coast.
Spring, from March till May, marks the start of the spiral towards the warm, balmy summer months in Nice. The crowds begin to pick up and the city comes back to life. After the winter months there is a steady return of the warmth, plenty of sunshine but little change in rainfall. The average high temperature climbs to a mild 15°C in March, 17°C in April and 20°C in May. From mid-April it is not unheard of for the sun to push temperatures up to the low 20s. Night times remain cool, with low temperatures in March dipping to 8°C, then rising steadily to 10°C in April, and a positively warm 13°C in May. On average, you can expect daily temperatures to sit at around 12°C in March and 13°C in April, before shooting up to 17°C in May.
Sea temperatures remain brisk until the end of the season, settling at around 13°C in March, 15°C in April, and rising to 18°C in May as the city prepares for summer. Sunshine levels are also on the rise after the shorter winter days; March sees around 10 hours of sunshine a day, rising to 11 in April, and 12 in May. Showers remain relatively frequent, with 70mm of rain falling throughout March and April. May sees the rain ease up, with only 50mm falling throughout the month. But, spread out over only a small number of days, the rains are sure to be accompanied by the Mediterranean’s characteristic clear skies and warm weather. Spring brings the European festival season and flowering countryside, so it is a popular time to visit. The beaches and museums aren’t quite as busy as when the summer crowds arrive.